Demonstrates correct posture for typing; proper fingering of the keys; use of the shift key, back spacer, tabulator, carriage return lever, etc.; and differences between manual and electric typewriters.
October 1, 2004 Subject:
A must for typewriter enthusiasts!
In 1976, when I was six years old, my mother took a typing course and bought a Smith-Corona portable manual typewriter. I absolutely loved that little machine, even though it was a glorified toy. Sadly, at that time, the typewriter's glory days were just about over.
I still own a couple old manual typewriters. The best of the two is a 1962 Olympia, but even then, they were being made with plastic keys. This 1943 Navy training film, geared toward secretaries, features the great typewriters of the 1930s and 40s (the Underwood is my favorite) which were all-metal and built to be long-lasting, easy to maintain workhorses.
The movie opens with footage of rare, beautiful antique typewriters, then shows us various current (as of 1943) models, including an early electric typewriter. Most typewriter enthusiasts (myself included) consider electrics an abomination. Manual typewriters were definitely better. There was no motor to burn out, the keys didn't jam as often, and manuals were easier to maintain.
Lenore Benton, a then-famous typist, is the host and narrator. She covers not only typing techniques but ergonomics as well - how to sit at the typewriter to enhance comfort and performance. Of course, Ms. Benton uses the old standard ASDF JKL; fingering technique, and reinforces the myth that the correct typing technique is what's most important, not speed and accuracy because that comes with using the correct technique.
I never could type using the ASDF JKL; method. It slowed me down and cramped up my hands. In my junior high school typing class, (circa 1983) I devised my own typing method - a kind of free-form hunt-and-peck using only my index, middle, and ring fingers. I was able to accurately type 50 to 60 words per minute that way. I got an A in the class.
Still, it was a lot of fun to watch Ms. Benton demonstrate her techniques and see her lightning-fast fingers fly over the keyboard. I laughed when she said that her instruction would help "women and girls" become better typists. Even back then - especially during the war - most male soldiers - especially staff and officers - had to do a lot of their own typing. :o)
If you're a typewriter enthusiast or just have great memories of using these wonderful machines, this is a MUST-SEE on this site! Memo to Mr. Prelinger: more typing films, please! :o)
- Eric Petersen
October 13, 2003 Subject:
How not to have a flat chest
Primarily hosted by the amazing Miss Lenore Benton, who has won countless typing awards, this awkwardly narrated army film teaches everyone... I mean 'women and girls' as this IS an Army film, about typing fundamentals. After a nifty history of the typewriter, Miss Benton goes to work, teaching us how to put paper in, how to sit properly, and most importantly, how to type. While narrative skills doesnt seem to be her bag, the lady DOES know how to type, and amazes us with her whizzing speed. On a MANUAL typewriter yet. Although this does get boring after a while, it was kind of cool to remind us of the pre-computer days, when everyone wondered what the @ sign was used for.
October 10, 2003 Subject:
Now Is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of Their Party.
This is a World War II vintage Navy training film. Nevertheless, we know which naval personnel it is aimed at when it asserts that "typewriters make it possible for women and girls to do work as important as men." Meaning no Navy man had to mess around with this sissy typing stuff. A female typing champion narrates most of the film, primly giving out more rules than a Simmel-Misservy manners film. You know a time-and-motion study specialist was involved in this when she carefully and repeatedly shows us the one and only proper way to insert paper into the typewriter. This is as stark as the typical military training film, with absolutely no music on the soundtrack, just narration and typing sounds. It's not quite as boring as it sounds, though, because it brings back all those memories of typing, such as handling greasy ribbons; struggling with those stupid typing erasers that didn't properly erase until you had worn a hole in the paper, which required you to retype the whole damn page, cursing all the while; malfunctioning machines that placed certain letters above the baseline, or filled in the openings in O's or A's; trying desperately to type out forms and align the linespacing so the letters will go on the blanks, not under or over, and the horrors of carbon paper. Lots of vintage typewriters, including what must have been the first electric typewriter, are also shown. Remember, what you type is not as important as how you type. The purpose of this is improved communication.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.